It feels like everyone is getting sued these days and lawsuits get filed every other week against game developers. Epic Games knows this feeling all too well as they’ve been sued by multiple artists over dance moves in Fortnite. However, I didn’t expect to see Red Dead Redemption 2 in the centre of a legal battle but that’s happening over Red Dead Redemption 2 Pinkertons right now.
More specifically, publisher Take-Two Interactive is being sued by real-life Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations agency over Red Dead Redemption 2 Pinkertons. Basically, the Pinkerton agency alleges that Take-Two has no right to use the Pinkerton name in Red Dead Redemption 2.
As reported by The Verge, Pinkerton sent a cease-and-desist order in December 2017 and claimed that they were “trading on the goodwill associated with the company’s trademarks, creating a false impression that the game was made by or connected with Pinkerton.” Pinkerton also demanded that Take-Two pay back royalties for the use of the name or a lump sum to be settled out of court.
Pinkerton president Jack Zahran said in a statement (read it in full here) that:
We commend the makers of the game for creating a truly beautiful depiction of the Old West through their wildly successful and profitable product. However, to claim it as ‘historically accurate’ is misleading.
One cannot rewrite history to create profit in the present at the expense of real-life people who represent a brand today. In the game, Pinkertons are seen shooting horses, shooting guns and firebombs into buildings where women and children are present, and as violent villains in the community. History tells a different story. Allan Pinkerton was a visionary businessman who created the country’s first detective agency in 1850. The logo he created features an eye, leading to the term “Private Eye,” which is a part of American lexicon today. After working as President Lincoln’s security detail and thwarting the first attempt on Lincoln’s life, the agency became the inspiration behind the creation of the Secret Service.
Take-Two doesn’t seem to be backing down, however, as they have counter-sued and you can read the filing in full here for those who love all that legal speak. In basic terms, Take-Two is saying that Pinkerton cannot use trademark law to own the past and that the this falls under fair use and is protected by First Amendment principles of the US. Furthermore, it is noted that Pinkertons have appeared in other media in the past.
What do you think about this legal battle over Red Dead Redemption 2 Pinkertons? Let us know in the comment section below.